Every year it happens to me: I enter the holiday season filled with the desire to have the merriest Christmas ever and as each day of the Advent season passes a bulb darkens on the strand of lights in my mind. I get depressed. I’m miserable and I start wishing the season would just be done and over with. I know there are lots of people who share my sentiment. Christmas joy and the gift God so sacrificially gave to us is lost to me and I find I have to go looking for Christmas all over again.
In the last week or so I’ve been drifting aimlessly. I have family bemoaning how Christmas will never be like it was when I was younger; I hear people saying they aren’t going to get want they want (or deserve) for Christmas and that what they buy will not be appreciated. The last couple weeks have been wrapped in misery and tied with bow of sadness.
I realized I needed to climb back up on my camel and head out in the direction of the Christmas star. It was up there. I couldn’t miss it. I wouldn’t miss it. Or would I?
I’ve read all kinds of scientific research about why people get depressed at Christmas and it all centers on Christmas Day not living up to our expectations. People have this huge build-up for the big day and then … that’s it? I did all that shopping, spent all that money, baked and decorated and ate all those cookies, for no praise, no pats on the back no a jelly-of-the-month subscription and crappy gifts I don’t like? Seems like a waste of time, money and energy to me!
My journey to the star took me to a website called Honey Coach based in the United Kingdom. In the story titled, “Study confirms Christmas makes you miserable (unless …”. (I need to interject two things at this point: first, I know I did not close the parenthesis and second there’s more to the title but I don’t want to give away the clincher.) The story said, “The study interviewed respondents in the pre-Christmas period (16th – 26th of December) and then compared it to their levels of happiness and contentment in the post-Christmas period (27th – 31st of December).
“It found that the period around Christmas gave people significantly less satisfaction and more negative emotions when compared to the rest of the year – unless …”
Their findings did not surprise me. I’ve come to realize that. But it was the "unless" that caught my attention: “with the only exception being those who described themselves as devoutly Christian.”
Wow, there is was: the star shining so brightly and vividly that it blinded me.
You see, the world pursues Christmas. Christians pursue Christ. The wise men sought the Christ child and found him. Verses after verse in God’s word reminds us to seek God and thereby we will be rewarded. Jeremiah 29:13 NIV “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Also Matthew 6:33 NIV “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
And note the report says “devoutly Christian.” Devoted, devout — someone who is seeking. If a person isn’t seeking Christ, there is no question you’re going to fail at enjoying Christmas. Maybe not this Christmas or last Christmas or next Christmas, but Christmas for the sake of just Christmas has a built-in kill switch. The world and Satan are going to make sure of it. Satan’s plan is pretty ingenious (insidious, maybe): turn the celebration for the birth of the Savior into a materialist, party-hardy, gimme-gimme-gimme-fest and people will not only forget the real reason they are celebrating but they will get so fed up with it they may even turn their backs on Jesus.
Case in point: in another story from SBS, a broadcasting company out of Australia, the writer tragically details the relief she feels at quitting Christmas now that she has converted to Judaism. She goes on to say that Australian census data reports that only 60% of the country’s population identifies with being Christian — and that number is declining. The next largest group she says is those who report no religion. And yet, “regardless of religious affiliation, [most Australians] celebrate Christmas to some degree. Recent research indicates that over half of people belonging to other religions still take part in Christmas celebrations.”
The end result is you have people worldwide who celebrate Christmas for reasons other than the birth of the Savior. They celebrate it like the pagan holiday it once was. Ultimately, Christmas becomes a stress-filled holiday that many stop celebrating because it’s not worth the effort.
Christmas emulates the story of the wise men. We seem to have gotten the gift-giving down pat. But we forget the journey. We forget the message the Bible tells us repeatedly: “Seek Him”. (Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV, 1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV, 2 Chronicles 15:2 NIV, 2 Chronicles 20:4 NIV, Psalm 10:4 NIV, Psalm 24:6 NIV, Psalm 27:4 NIV, Psalm 78:34 NIV, Psalm 119:2 NIV, Acts 17:27 NIV).
Matthew 2:1-12 NIV also contains a parallel story — that of King Herod. He, too, had heard of the Christmas star and asked the wise men to seek Jesus on his behalf. While they said they would, God warned them against doing so and Herod ultimately never found Jesus. The message is clear — you can’t have anyone seek Jesus for you. You must seek him yourself. Christmastime is the one holiday that reminds us that we need to seek him.
At this point the Advent season is newly upon us. The star is in the heavens. Will you seek Jesus or Christmas?
Marsh, Stuart. “Study Confirms Christmas Makes You Miserable (Unless You're Christian).” Study Confirms Christmas Makes You Miserable (Unless
You're Christian), Nine Digital Pty Ltd, 3 Dec. 2015, coach.nine.com.au/2015/12/03/11/21/christmas-makes-you-miserable-unless-you-are-
Sutherland, Elizabeth. “‘I Quit Christmas’: Why I'm Packing Away the Reindeer Earrings.” SBS News, SBS News, 14 Dec. 2016, 12:28 PM,
The works in these posts are written by either Randy S. Gerardot or Gregory C. Jones, web masters for betheone.co. Guest writers will be credited individually for their work.